As a small business lender, what keeps you up at night? If we were betting the odds, the safest bet would probably be lead generation.
Yes, it’s true that more leads alone don’t necessarily mean more revenue, especially if you’re buying them and they’re poor quality. And yet, a holistic lead gen strategy – one that leverages experience design, organic marketing, and paid media – can help drive sustainable growth.
In today’s article, we are going to cover not only why lead generation should be at the forefront of your digital marketing efforts, but some strategies for generating more high-quality leads. Remember, in a crowded lending market, capturing the right leads at the right time can make the difference between surviving and thriving.
Let’s take a look at some lead gen strategies for SMBs.
Why Lead Gen Matters for SMB Lenders
Let’s start by stating the very obvious: without leads, you have no way of sending prospects through the sales funnel and out the other side as customers.
But there’s more to it than just that.
Leaving any aspect of your SMB lending business up to chance is never a good idea. If you’re meticulous about your underwriting processes and rigorous with your collections workflows—why not run a tight ship when it comes to SMB lead generation?
Yes, there are a lot of challenges that SMB lenders must confront in the current environment. Changing consumer preferences, the continued use of legacy lead gen processes, fierce competition, etc., etc. And yet, these times of uncertainty also present an opportunity: SMBs are in need of financing.
It’s on you, as an SMB lender, to be disruptive and catch the leads that matter to your business.
A successful lead generation strategy is not one that values quantity over quality. In fact, that can even prove counterproductive.
Instead, look to better understand your audience first, before selectively targeting those potential customers that are truly in need of your value proposition (i.e., financing). When you know who you’re targeting and why, you’ll drive higher quality leads, convert more of them, and ultimately push your revenue up.
The Main Challenges of Effective Lead Generation
Yes, the ideal lead gen strategies for SMBs are strong, multi-faceted, and highly adaptable (not to mention efficient). But what hurdles do you have to clear before you get there? Take a hard look at your current lead gen strategy. To see where it can be improved, first, you must understand where you’re struggling.
1. Marketing Silos
If your marketing stakeholders can’t efficiently collaborate to put your strategy together, well, you have found challenge number one.
As a part of your wider digital marketing strategy, your lead generation efforts must be aligned with all other pillars of a modern marketing blueprint. Disjointed strategies and siloed stakeholders are a recipe for disaster: communication across channels gets sloppy, interactions between teams are limited, and valuable resources get lost in the mix.
Make it a point to align prospect touchpoints like paid media, organic marketing, and creative design. Only then can you more easily understand how these strategies work together, and really focus on who you’re targeting and where.
2. Poor Quality Leads
Hey, a lead is a lead, right? Wrong. You’ll lose precious time if you have to skim through thousands of random leads that you drag into your funnel, or even worse… pay for.
Although you might feel inclined to value equally all leads that come in, you must learn to differentiate which leads truly add value to your funnel. That is, those leads that are more likely to become customers. And to target them, you must first understand what your ideal lead looks like.
Do your services meet the needs of the market? Are they within a prospect’s budget? Are prospects in search of a service like yours? Ask yourself questions like these. Only then, look to engage and go for gold.
3. Cutting Costs
Your SMB lending business relies on state-of-the-art market technology. Or it should. Remember, it’s all about the power of digital marketing. And there’s no digital without technology.
Sure, each piece of tech costs your organization money. Implementing and integrating this technology uses up resources. And yet, resist the urge to take the easy way out and buy your leads. You might save money in the short-term, but the majority of the leads you buy will not fit your ideal buyer persona… and this will cost you more in the long-run.
Instead, look to implement a strategy that focuses on highly targeted paid advertising and organic lead generation. This is the key to cutting SMB lead gen costs over the long-term and increasing customer lifetime value.
9 Actionable Strategies for Better Leads
At this point, you understand how important it is to capture the leads that are right for your SMB lending business, as well as some of the main challenges to doing so. What should you do next? Here are nine actionable strategies to help you optimize your lead generation.
1. Stand Out From the Crowd
First things first–your lending business needs to stand out from the crowd. Look to develop a consistent and strong brand personality, one that lets consumers know you’re there and the unique value proposition you offer. Find your voice and stick to it, and above all, be faithful to your vision—this will help you build long-term trust.
2. Understand Your Audience
Analyzing (in detail) your current customers and extrapolating your learnings to potential customers can give you an enormous edge when it comes to lead generation. Don’t get too comfortable here though, as consumers can change their preferences—work and rework your strategies to keep up with the market at all times.
3. Leverage Data
Every facet of your marketing strategy will be truly enhanced when you study and make decisions based on the data you collect—including search patterns, industry trends, and user behaviors. And it’s out there for you: studies show that a majority of consumers would gladly share their data. The right insights can make a world of difference as you look to capture leads and drive interest from your target audience.
4. Deliver a Steady Stream of (Good) Content
It’s not enough to post on social media and publish blog articles here and there. If you don’t create content with real value, you’re never going to effectively connect with your target audience. Think about what you create and how you deliver it: make sure it’s actionable, value-driven, and relevant, always keeping in mind who you’re creating content for.
5. Host Webinars
On-site events will never go out of style, but virtual events have become the norm in our post-pandemic world. It’s a much cheaper way to connect with audiences that might be interested in what you can offer them. Not only are virtual events a great strategy for networking, but they work wonders when building brand awareness (especially as a subject matter expert).
6. Update Continually
Be sure to keep your content up-to-date and relevant to keep up with changes in the industry. Up-to-date content delivers more value and makes it easier for potential customers to find you. Remember, audience preferences are constantly changing in parallel to their perception of value. As such, you have to be ready and willing to refresh your content assets to always be relevant.
7. Implement Agile MarTech
There’s a myriad of digital marketing platforms out there. At CSTMR we’re a HubSpot Solutions Platinum Partner. While there are a number of similar technologies available on the market, HubSpot is unmatched in its ability to reduce administrative tasks, nurture relationships, and leverage data intelligence. To learn more about how HubSpot can transform your marketing efforts (including lead generation), check out our article on the topic.
8. Build a Sturdy Framework of SEO-Optimized Content
Reeling leads into your website organically is as cost-effective as a strategy can be. According to HubSpot, 69% of marketers invested in SEO in 2021. They did so because they understood that a commitment to the development of search-optimized content drives brand awareness and generates high-quality lead opportunities with almost zero cost for advertising and promotion. To learn more about the benefits of SEO, check out this guide from HubSpot.
9. Optimize Email Campaigns
As long as emails have existed, email marketing has been a thing. As old as this strategy is, it’s still effective. Make it even more effective by building lists of prospects whom you know might be interested in your services or thought leadership. Be sure to make each email as personalized and relevant as possible as you communicate your organization’s value proposition.
Supercharge Your Lead Gen Strategies With CSTMR
OK–there we have it! Nine lead gen strategies to help you thrive in the current environment.
Yes, small business lending is competitive, but your story can be told in a compelling way that can help you stand out. This is where we come in. CSTMR is a full-service digital marketing agency that specializes in helping financial services companies grow
We work with lenders and other financial companies like yours every day to build effective lead gen marketing programs, strengthen their brands, and grow their businesses. Interested in learning more? Check out this recent lead gen success story. If you want to see how we can help you redefine your approach to lead gen, drop us a line–our experts are standing by.